Communicate. Collaborate. Celebrate.
TOASTMASTER PROFESSIONAL HOW HUMOR AND STORIES MADEÂ AN OIL RIG SAFER
THE OPINION PAGE CHANGE CONTEST JUDGING TO ENCOURAGE SPEAKING FOR THE REAL WORLD
THE MAN WHO ADOPTED A VILLAGE
HUMANS OF D98
IN THIS ISSUE
DISTRICT CONTEST WINNERS
CELEBRATINGÂ THE MILESTONES
ASK THE TRIO
HUMANS OF D98
THE OPINION PAGE
NEW CLUB EXPERIENCE
THE C98 TEAM
DISTRICT 98 OFFICERS
OUR DISTRICT OFFICERS (2017-2018) Arvind Nair Ravi Teja Marrapu Leo Kurians Paulose Chandrashekar D P Patrick Pereira Nishant Mehta Niteash Agarwaal Chidanand Pradhan Hasnain Changi Raunak Kulwal Vinod J Sharma Akshay Chillal Siddharth Suman Anant Katyayni Smita Mishra Shijin Sreeraman Ajay Hiraskar Dhanraj Kamdar Dipankar Das Mahesh Puranam Manish Kamdar Debahooti Basu Tanmaya Panda Parakh Kukreja Prashant Sampat Kannagi Mishra Poonam Kumar Chris Kingsley Seema Rani Vijay Bhanushali Pramod Kiwande Ravi Parikh Mayank Naidu Priya Lekha Ajit Shah Sapna Ohri
District Director Program Quality Director Club Growth Director Immediate Past District Director District Administration Manager District Finance Manager District PR Manager District Logistics Manager Division Director - Div A Division Director - Div B Division Director - Div C Division Director - Div D Division Director - Div E Division Director - Div F Division Director - Div H Division Director - Div M Division Director - Div P Area Director - Area A1 Area Director - Area A2 Area Director - Area A3 Area Director - Area A4 Area Director - Area B1 Area Director - Area B2 Area Director - Area B3 Area Director - Area B4 Area Director - Area B5 Area Director - Area C1 Area Director - Area C2 Area Director - Area C3 Area Director - Area C4 Area Director - Area C5 Area Director - Area D1 Area Director - Area D2 Area Director - Area D3 Area Director - Area D4 Area Director - Area D5
Aparajitha Chakilam Ankur Agarwal Rahul Ghelani Priya Mathur G. K. Aajay Pavan Kumar Tulsija Shefali Johar Prudvinath Malepati Narita Rai Subramanyam KV Abhishek Shukla Tanay Tejasvi Asha Pratyasa Sunil Sharma Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal Shubhangi Pandey K Srikanth Ravi Sharma Pratibha Jithesh Umme Salma Babrawala Navin Raj Abraham Vinay Prabhu Mhambre Shreya Kanabar Angad Sathe Syed Moazzam Daimi Ravi G. Motwani Swapnil Sonawane Pramod Mohandas Arjuna Shivangi Usha Udayshankar Atul Morey Eknath Hole Karan Gupta Mukta Nadkar Shireesh Nadkar Suryaprathap Reddy K
Area Director - Area E1 Area Director - Area E2 Area Director - Area E3 Area Director - Area E4 Area Director - Area E5 Area Director - Area E6 Area Director - Area F1 Area Director - Area F2 Area Director - Area F3 Area Director - Area F4 Area Director - Area F5 Area Director - Area H1 Area Director - Area H2 Area Director - Area H3 Area Director - Area H4 Area Director - Area H5 Area Director - Area H6 Area Director - Area M1 Area Director - Area M2 Area Director - Area M3 Area Director - Area M4 Area Director - Area M5 Area Director - Area P1 Area Director - Area P2 Area Director - Area P3 Area Director - Area P4 Area Director - Area P5 District Training Manager Club Extension Chair, Hyderabad Club Extension Chair, Pune Club Extension Chair, Mumbai Credentials Chair District Newsletter Editor District Chief Judge District Parliamentarian District Webmaster
DISTRICT CONTEST WINNERS 2017 SPEECH EVALUATION CONTEST WINNER PRAMOD MOHANDAS DIVISION B
SPEECH EVALUATION CONTEST FIRST RUNNER-UP PRASOON KOCHER DIVISION H
SPEECH EVALUATION CONTEST SECOND RUNNER-UP SAURABH CHAUBE DIVISION D
AND THE WINNERS ARE... HUMOROUS SPEECH CONTEST WINNER NIKHIL SALVE DIVISION B
HUMOROUS SPEECH CONTEST FIRST RUNNER-UP AKASH MOHITE DIVISION C
HUMOROUS SPEECH CONTEST SECOND RUNNER-UP AMIT SOLANKE DIVISION D
CELEBRATING MILESTONES 300TH MEETING OF TOASTMASTERS CLUB OF PUNE SOUTH EAST 11TH NOVEMBER
50TH MEETING OF PUNE ADVANCED TOASTMASTERS CLUB, 12TH NOVEMBER
75TH MEETING OF SBM NMIMS TOASTMASTERS, MUMBAI 12TH NOVEMBER
200TH MEETING OF TOASTMASTERS CLUB OF BMC SOFTWARE, PUNE 17TH NOVEMBER
150TH MEETING OF GAVELS CLUB OF AMANORA, PUNE Â 18TH NOVEMBER
HIGH PERFORMANCE LEADERSHIP “Where Leaders Are Made” is what the Toastmasters’ tagline says. Many organizations claim to develop leadership qualities, but we have perhaps the most experiential program in the world. A shining example is the High Performance Leadership project. When I first read the HPL manual, I was amazed at the level of detail even though the projects can be incredibly diverse in their scope. The most interesting part is the project need not have anything to do with Toastmasters. In fact, the process defined in the manual can be applied to nearly every leadership situation you encounter. Those on the path to becoming a DTM already know about the benefits of an HPL. For the rest of us, this is one thing we should sample ahead of the prescribed course – it will change the way you think about leadership. It asks you to self-assess your leadership skills, form a guidance committee to help you throughout the project, define a vision and mission; then form a team and persuade them to believe in that vision. There are plans to create, tasks to assign, and at the very end, you assess yourself again and see how you’ve grown as a leader. For this feature, I interviewed three Toastmasters who completed their HPL projects. Their projects are wideranging and each has a distinct value or lesson that we can learn.
Darshan Khanna, ProductCamp Hyderabad A networking and learning event for professionals interested in Product Management. What were your personal motivations behind starting ProductCamp? Why did you want to do it as an HPL? I had been learning about Product Management by reading online and talking to people and I learned a lot from smart people around me in my career. I wanted to bring the same advantage to others around me, to leverage this experience on a bigger platform. As to why take it on as an HPL, I have done many events in the past without knowing the dos and don’ts. I wanted to do such a large event with the benefit of the HPL process. I wanted to bring people together and get them aligned with my vision. I don’t see a half-day event as an HPL. The idea is to change your attitude; you have to take a project where you have a longer timeline and work the plan to see the difference.
COVER STORY How was ProductCamp unique from other such events? In large events, you get a lot of knowledge you may or may not be interested in and they are also very expensive. In our case, we got domain experts, put them on stage for an elevator pitch, and socialized their talk. During the day of the event, the audience listened to the elevator pitch and then voted for the speakers they wanted to hear; the talks then happened simultaneously. One big draw was that the event was completely free! In Hyderabad, Product Management is coming up, people are curious to listen to and apply these concepts. When we took this pitch to companies, they were very interested to spend some money on an event where their own professionals benefitted. In which area of personal leadership did you see growth as a result of this HPL? My key learning was that you have to think out of the box. There are many paid events in Hyderabad of this kind and many people called me to say—we’ve thought of this, it is not possible, you don’t have the experience. But you have to say "No, I will do it. I can make it happen!" If you believe in yourself, no matter what people tell you, you can get it done. Conflicts management is something I really learned—dealing with people, especially when there are emotions involved, and letting people do what they think is best by not overbearing them. You need to have a guiding principle, but let people innovate how they want. I also applied this for the rest of my Toastmasters' year as well. When you dedicate yourself to a guiding principle and read through it again and again, you will see how it changes the output.
DTM Shireesh Nadkar Motivating the one-year-old Eureka Toastmasters club to host an Area Conference. How difficult or easy was it for the club to understand your vision and mission? The club had a small membership base of 16. Of these, 8 or 9 were active, the rest were not. Certain logistical things that needed to be done had to be done by the members themselves, who were busy with their work quite often. To help get them together was quite difficult. I spent quite a lot of time going there and persuading them to the cause. Unfortunately, after this HPL, the club faced so much difficulty that they did not renew. Some of the key people involved have moved away or left the company. Some had a larger workload. The core team shrunk so much that they couldn’t keep going. Your leadership self-assessment was quite exemplary – What did you take away from this experience? I had a lot of experience going into this project. My challenge was working in the voluntary environment of Toastmasters and to motivate the members to do the conference. My objective was to understand the dynamics of people who don’t really have to do this unless they have a personal interest. There is nothing you can do about it because you don’t have any authority. I understood how to grow as a motivating and persuasive leader by appreciating them for everything they did.
COVER STORY As a District Officer, would you consider doing another HPL? I wouldn’t mind it at all. I was on the guidance committee of someone who just completed an HPL and I'm guiding another person to do an HPL. So now, with my experience, I can guide them much better and explain the pitfalls.
Sudhir Batham Club Coach for Synap Toastmasters, Hyderabad Why choose an HPL now, when you’re so far away from the DTM title. Why choose to be a club coach? In Toastmasters, I usually gravitate towards developing leadership skills and when Divisions EFH introduced the HPL drive, I had a lot of curiosity on what can be done as part of it, so I wanted to pick it up. DTM Ravi Teja’s presentation told us that coaches are assigned to struggling clubs. TM Suryaprathap, my mentor, was the AD for Synap Toastmasters and I went there a couple of times to judge contests and as a target speaker. When I went to the club, the hospitality was great, management was supportive; they were even recording meetings. The enthusiasm was lacking from the members’ side. The challenge was to build the skills of the members. Suryaprathap suggested that I become the club coach as I wanted to guide and help the members. What was your learning from this exercise? >Learning 1: Identify the problem at the right time and reach out to the right people. The coaching assignment should have been done a bit earlier. We knew the club status by October, but we actually started working only by mid-December. >Learning 2: If required, bypass the system sometimes to reach the next level, as suggested by TM Jagrut on my guidance committee. The company management was supportive, but club members did not have much enthusiasm —so why not approach the management to add more members and then drive it with a new zeal? >Learning 3: Don’t give up even if your efforts are not bringing the desired results. Maybe one more effort, one more try can bring the change. Follow-up more frequently with the club members, even though that is not how the club coach concept works. Why do you think the club failed? Is there a bigger lesson for us when we charter new clubs? As Toastmasters leaders, we should understand that if members are not seeing value in the program, we can only motivate them to a certain extent. In this case, not even one member came outside the club despite education sessions, a joint contest proposal, in-person and even a virtual C-OTP. We focus a lot towards opening so many new clubs, but we’re not focusing enough on clubs which need support and are hesitant in asking for help. This club was started by a DTM with a lot of interest. When he left, the rest of the members couldn’t see the value in the Toastmasters learning. Also, they couldn’t see many implementations of these learnings in their own professional activities. The company also gave them money for membership, so people took it easy. When I gave the closing speech, people said it’s not really a failure. Whenever the club comes back, you would still be their coach to guide them. Edited and compiled by Karan Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
ASK THE TRIO
Q: What should an ordinary member of the audience do if he feels that the speech is objectionable in his opinion? A member of the audience is forced to listen to an unwanted speech. He can’t go out of the hall because the SAA locks all the exit doors. What is your sincere guidance to an ordinary member in such cases? G. M. Subramanyam, TCS Maitree Toastmasters Club, Mumbai It is important that we remember that our clubs provide a learning environment for every member. It does not and should not judge anyone, we only evaluate and provide feedback to the speaker to improve. Hence, it is more important to treat each speaker and leader in Toastmasters as learners/students. You are not forced to listen as a member but you are bound to evaluate and provide feedback to the person who made you uncomfortable, irrespective of whether you are an evaluator or not. The speaker’s job doesn’t complete by giving away a project speech, but it continues after receiving evaluation - working on it and coming back again with improvements. If the content is very objectionable and hurts the sentiments of the club members, it is important that the matter is taken up by the EC and the speaker is appropriately warned. In case the member repeats the action, s/he can be formally removed from his membership of the club. When it comes to contests, it is different. The judges can mark you down in terms of content. You are bound by the rules of the contest and have to respect the same, even though you do not like the content of the speech. That’s what makes us special and different from the rest.
Q: Does Toastmasters organise events like TED talks? Kumar Iyer, Palava Toastmasters Club, Mumbai We do not organize events like TED talks, as the mission of TED is different to ours. Instead, we organize educational session for our members at our Division and District conferences. Q: As we know, there would be no semi-annual conference for 2018-2019 and Humorous and Evaluation contests will only go til Division level. Can we invite the Division Champions to contest in any one city of the District for a one-day event - only contests and maybe education sessions? Parakh Kukreja, Mahindra Toastmasters Club, Mumbai What we only know is that there will be no Semi-Annual District conference from the year 2018. The point on HSC and Eval will be decided by the DEC for next year in consultation with their respective councils. We only will make a suggestion based on our research to the next term and help them make an informed decision. Q: The Toastmasters mobile app can be a wonderful tool to track progress, explore, and aid us in our toastmasters journey. However, at the present time, it is quite basic. Are there any plans to develop this app further and how can members be made aware of this app? Pritpal Kaur, Palava Toastmasters Club, Mumbai The Toastmasters Mobile App will, I suppose, undergo some changes after Pathways rollout. As of now, sufficient information is not available to us on how TI plans on developing this app. This FAQ section will help get you some clarity. It’s a good thought that members need to be made aware of this app - let us start planning on it.
ASK THE TRIO Q: Since we are soon going to have PR campaign, I would like to know "How do you measure the results of a PR campaign in Toastmasters?" Praneeth Jinde, Diamond City Toastmasters Club, Surat Excellent question. These are my top 4 factors for measuring the success of a PR campaign: 1. The number of queries you get after the event. 2. The number of guests that join the club after the event. 3. A successful PR Campaign should always motivate another PR Campaign. 4. A successful PR Campaign will increase the quality of the club meeting.
Q: How to remain humble and grounded in the face of success and confident in times of failure? Abhisha Thaker, Amdavad Toastmasters Club It is difficult to follow and very simple to answer: By not getting affected by the result you allow yourself to focus on what to do next and how you can be better than yesterday.
Q: My Question to the PQD: When can we expect the introduction of Tall Tales Contest in D98? What is your opinion on bringing variety to the contests by introducing the Tall Tales? Krishna Kumhar, Amdavad Toastmasters Club A very good question, Tall Tales Contest is an amazing contest to have in District 98. Traditionally we have HSC, TT and Evaluations (ISC is mandatory). The question is thus: Which one should we replace or can we add one more contest? The choice of the contest is the District Executive Committee’s prerogative and you can submit your case of how we can conduct the Tall Tales Contest in District 98 to your Area Director.
Q: I wanted to ask why is the VP-PR not acknowledged with an award during the national conferences? Since VPPR’s are the first ones who do the publicity of toastmasters through all social media and after that it's the responsibility of vice president- membership to look after the members; So, it's the VP-PR’s who begin the initial process of bringing the members. Suhas Mulay, Toastmasters Club of Pune Again a good question. The VP-PR is an important role and it is essential to recognize them. Our District is blessed with many such passionate VP-PRs, who made a mark for themselves and added value to the clubs they serve. Hence we have added that as a criterion in the Diamond Club Award. The problem is in creating criteria for individual awards which could be easily tracked and presented for any exceptional achievement. If in case you have any suggestions to offer, do write to us and we can definitely consider them.
Q: As a Toastmaster, how do you solve a dispute (if at all) between members struggling for roles because they want to complete CC or CL before their membership ends? Pradeep Talreja, Vadodara Toastmasters Club Planning is the key. As the VP-ED of the club, one needs to have a clear plan on how to ensure that everyone’s goal is achieved. Increasing the number of meetings or allowing the club to split if there are too many members to handle can be a few out of many options the club can choose. If at all there is a dispute between members, I would suggest you to refer to the expectations that were set and agreed upon as part of your Club Success Plan. If there are no expectations that are already set, then you have to take the ground realities into consideration and decide on how to go about it.
Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
ONE-ON-ONE WITH RAVI SHARMA
TM RAVI SHARMA AREA M1 DIRECTOR
1. After joining Toastmasters, you became an Area Director in less than a year. Can you share your initial experiences and objectives on taking this role? Yes, becoming an Area Director in less than a year was a nice feeling, something unconventional. But that’s exactly when more eyes look at you, observe you, and track your progress. You need to be always on your toes. Keeping this aside, my main objective was to walk that ‘extra mile’ from the designated Area Director tasks. I am happy to share that we have been able to initiate UNISON—a series of member engagement events, most of which are yet to come. 2. Before becoming a Toastmaster to after becoming an Area Director, what change did you observe in yourself in terms of the way you work? Oh, that’s an interesting question! Let me be brutally honest. If you had met me a year ago, I would want to do all tasks myself—not because I didn’t trust others, but because I got more satiated doing things my way. I have seen a sea change in myself since becoming an AD. From being a do-it-myself person, I have transformed into a person who has started trusting people more, who has started getting behind a team which comes together and achieves the purpose. There is one person I can’t thank enough; someone who has helped me understand (less theoretically and more practically) the importance of a team, team management, and choosing the right people—my Division Director and mentor, Shijin Sreeraman. 3. What is your proudest achievement in Toastmasters? As clichéd as it may sound, I believe that the ‘proudest achievements’ of life are basically the culmination of your regular achievements over a period of time.
Technically, I can term becoming an Area Director as my proudest achievement. But certain achievements which remain close to my heart, ones that gave me greater joy— hosting the COTP & JTW soon after joining Toastmasters, MOC at Confluence 2016, getting an aRISE award as an EC member, being the SAA for a day-long Division Conference, assisting my AD by passing new club leads and so on have most likely prepared me for the bigger role of an Area Director. 4. What was your role in chartering new clubs in Mumbai? I have been involved in chartering three clubs in Mumbai: HUL Finance, Mastek Toastmasters Club, and eClerx Mumbai Toastmasters Club. We have a couple of more clubs in the pipeline, especially in the Navi Mumbai region where there is a surge in demand. Apart from the customary interactions with management and demo meetings, we have focused on involving the members of Mumbai, irrespective of the Division to which they belong, to take the lead to support these new clubs—be it organising demo meetings, conducting educational sessions, providing Executive Committee Training, and so on. I am indebted to each of these "Leaders without Titles"! 5. What are your future plans? Personally, I wish to explore more that’s in store in my leadership and communication abilities in Toastmasters and improve each day. The immediate plan is to achieve higher participation from members in various activities and enrich the member experience through certain programs. I believe the more engaged our members are, the more ownership they experience, more effective will be our holistic growth as an organization. Edited and compiled by Santosh Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
FROM AN OIL RIG DIARY
TM JAY JANI AMDAVAD TOASTMASTERS
In August 2015, I joined an oil rig in the oilfields of Mehsana, Gujarat as a Safety Officer. My boss and I both were new to our respective roles. Additionally, the rig had witnessed an accident a few months prior to our joining. The work culture was suffering due to several technical and contractual issues. Hence, our work was under scrutiny and we had to ensure a safe working environment. I quickly found out that the policies were brilliant but it was the implementation where the work unit suffered. Initially, I followed a strict and stern approach. I was the rule-book guy who wouldn’t budge on any count. However, over the course of time, I learned that such a multi-dimensional world cannot be judged in black and white. It is critical to understand different perspectives and take the middle path. We focused on several quick wins on the technical side and tried to nurture better relationships with all the relevant parties. This shift in approach helped us achieve over 1000 days of accident-free operations.Subsequently, we won the Annual Greentech Gold Award, 2017 for ‘Excellence in Safety’. But wait, why am I writing about this in the Toastmasters newsletter? Because there is a link! Soon after my joining at the oil rig, I vigorously ramped up safety meetings and mock drill sessions. Those turned out to be great but the popularity waned after a few months. This is quite common as any new guy in the system
brings in fresh air but the remote locations and harsh weather conditions don’t let that fresh air sustain for long. I found that attention and enthusiasm of crew members in the meetings and drills suffered. After participating in Toastmasters, I got an idea to inculcate stories and humour in our meetings, just as we do with our role player introductions. Guess what? It worked! Humour acts like a strong cup of coffee. It improves the alertness and attention of an audience. Result–people remember and retain your thoughts for a longer duration. In the operations domain, this becomes even more important as people deal with physically rigorous tasks. Moreover, I learned that stories can generate significant interest in a boring pool of data. These aspects helped us to start ‘Safety Story a Week’ campaign. Also, several leadership roles helped me learn the art of delegation. I asked a different person to lead the mock drill sessions each time and saw the improvement in our drill sessions as well. Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to use some humour in your boardroom meetings too! But be careful–don’t joke about your boss or you might end up writing humorous blogs or satires as a jobless bloke!
Edited and compiled by Disha Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
MENTOR MOMENT DTM PRASAD SOVANI
DTM ADITYA MAHESHWARAN
MENTORS FOR ME
DTM BEENA MANDREKAR BANER TOASTMASTERS CLUB, PUNE
‘Don’t be afraid to fail’ – they tell us in Toastmasters. That’s exactly what we are afraid of! Did we join Toastmasters to not be afraid to fail? Did I tell myself, “Hey, let’s see if I can find someplace where I won’t be afraid to fail! Ah, Toastmasters— the perfect place! When I joined, I wanted to be able to speak fluently to a strange audience and be able to sustain myself without my notes for at least 5-7 minutes. Wading through a sea of probable possibilities, I was assigned a mentor who was many years younger and afraid to advise me on anything. The mentor-mentee relationship was aborted before it even got a decent start. As I wanted to appear smart, I said, “Let’s talk grammar. Are you presently tense? Is your voice subjective?" 'In Toastmasters we do not speak, we communicate', they told me. “Precisely”, I said, “for which you need to be absolutely fluent in grammar!” The President of my club wrung his hands in despair and finally assigned a seasoned and larger than life mentor to me —Prasad Sovani, a DTM many times over and the former District 41 Director. His mentoring helped me accomplish several things: How to give a perfectly timed Project 7 speech from the Competent Communication manual–get comfortable with visual aids; how to never lose the connection with the audience and use powerpoint as a tool. He knew the rule book backwards. Through him, I learned that speaking may play an important part in the Toastmasters journey, but administration was also
worth its weight in gold. Next came Hemang Mandrekar, Area C3 Director, and currently my husband. What makes him a good mentor? ‘You have to connect with the audience and not talk at them’, he told me. “Don’t I do that?” ‘Oh no, you don’t. You give us a sermon. I feel I am in church on a Sunday morning!’ “Aww, come on!” But he did have a point. I hardly ever invested myself in my speech. On the contrary, he talked of his struggles and his triumphs and carried his audience with him. He made them laugh at his shortcomings and made them weep with his emotional turmoil. I learned slowly but steadily to open up to the people facing me. I tried in the seven minutes to tell them about my joys and sorrows and was that much richer after having done so. The third and awfully good mentor whose speeches I often listen to and who is a dear friend - DTM Aditya Maheshwaran —the 2nd place winner of the World Championship of Public Speaking 2015. He takes the audience through a series of episodes where he experiences something—at which point the audience thinks he has lost his chance to redeem himself. But redemption comes and he skillfully guides us back through the very same episodes with resounding success! I have always maintained that mentors are not like beacons shining brightly on you. They're like Christmas lights – shining and twinkling around you – off and on!
Edited and compiled by Karan Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
HUMANS OF D98
THE MAN WHO ADOPTED A VILLAGE
TM PENDYALA PRASAD ORACLE HYDERABAD TOASTMASTERS
The unreal is more powerful than the real because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it because it's only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles, wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on - Chuck Palahniuk How does one become a legend? Movies and books have introduced us to many larger than life legends. Closer to earth is TM Prasad Pendyala of Oracle Hyderabad Toastmasters. This is his story, in his words. I believe everybody’s return ticket is confirmed based on Karma. What is of any measure is what we do for others selflessly while we are here. I took that thought to action in 2013 when I chose to bring reforms in Laxminagar, a village two hours from Hyderabad. I believe that if the 80 crore population of villagers become economically strong, a lot of that strength can aid in building a stronger nation. As I saw it then, we were clearly not taking care of them. I set up my first few meetings with the villagers and formed the Laxminagar Welfare Society (LWS). The journey has been long and arduous. Often, the challenge was not to motivate the people, but the administration. I had to build trust at many levels—first the villagers and through them, the local officials. LWS first addressed the drinking water issue by establishing an RO plant with the assistance of Bala
Vikas, an NGO. We now supply clean and purified drinking water at ₹3 per litre. We have an ATW system: Any Time Water. People have a charge card which they swipe at the plant and drinking water is available 24*7 in the village. A women’s committee, the Manjeera Milk Society was also formed to collect and sell milk in the village. Today, they supply 500 litres of milk every day to Vijaya Dairy, a local operation. With these two activities, LWS is able to generate some revenue for the Grama Panchayati and create an employment opportunity for 3 people to run them. With the revenues generated from the above committees, the Haritha Haram Committee was formed to carry out tree plantation and turn the village into a Green Village. While infrastructure and economic strength was something tangible and visible, I wanted to do something to bring a shift in the social fabric. My biggest accomplishment in this area was banning the sale of liquor in the village. A popular temple nearby attracted the highway liquor business, which caused a lot of trouble for the villagers. The women in the village were determined to get liquor businesses closed because of the threat it posed. With the help of the local police chief, the highway unit was closed and subsequently, those in the village were closed too. This was a huge win as the villagers showed solidarity with the initiative Keeping pace with technology, we are inching towards becoming a digital village. In an attempt to save money, villagers began to own crop cutting machines.
HUMANS OF D98 VILLAGE OUTSKIRTS
Since each machine costs â‚š30 lakhs, many farmers took loans. Due to the farmersâ€™ clean repayment records and the demand for help with agriculture land and development, ICICI bank was compelled to pay more attention to Laxminagar. Every household now has a bank account and a debit card as well. Every shop in the village has card-swiping machines. We could achieve this owing to volunteers going door-to-door in collaboration with ICICI staff to educate the residents on digital transactions. This article will be incomplete if I do not acknowledge the one person who gave me the space and autonomy to do all that I have. To dream something of this magnitude is one thing, but to have someone support me with all her heart is something else. I owe a huge part of this journey to my wife, Sirisha. The road ahead is long and never-ending. As I foresee, sustenance will be a challenge. Hence, from raising funds to creating teams to run different projects, everything has been put in place. For a good deed to last, in this case, it will literally take a village to keep up the good work. Similar to our learnings in Toastmasters, I know that building future leaders is one of the ways to keep the new Laxminagar alive. I have done just that. With this story and in my actions, I only hope to inspire people to create more Laxminagars for India. To stay connected and learn more about the village, please visit: http://www.ourlaxminagar.org/
Edited and compiled by Prathima Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
THE OPINION PAGE
SPEAKING FOR THE REAL WORLD
TM A.V.S. PRASAD VISION TOASTMASTERS, HYDERABAD
As an organization, Toastmasters has a beautiful culture that does not denigrate failure. In our clubs, we can afford to fail, make mistakes and still feel totally supported. Recently, I was the test speaker at a Division Conference and bungled my speech. I felt I had let my club down and disgraced myself. I called Toastmaster Venkata for some consolation. He told me – “Prasad, everybody could see it was a champion speaking, but having a bad day.” That was all I needed to sit up straight again, with a big smile on my face. A man who can do that deserves to be in the Toastmasters Hall of Fame. I love being a Toastmaster, but take issue with some of the things we are taught, ideas perpetuated through a deeply embedded culture. I feel we, as Toastmasters, are often out of tune with the real world. Early in our Toastmasters journey, we are presented with pearls such as “Never thank your audience”, or “Never start your speech by greeting the audience”. As a result, we hear speeches that begin: “Did you know that 300 species of plants are disappearing from our planet each hour? Man has destroyed 10 million miles of the Amazon forest! Good morning fellow Toastmasters!” It is not sarcasm - just formula we are fed as Toastmaster babies. Who has not heard extravagant praise after a mediocre speech? “Oh god, that was a brilliant speech, you changed my life; I wish I had heard this speech when I was a child!”
Toastmasters prance on the stage, fall down, swivel/pivot on the balls of their feet to show two people in conversation. To say they brushed their teeth that morning, they show the brushing action with body language and accompany it with sounds (vocal variety). If at the release of the JioPhone, Mukesh Ambani spoke to his empty chair, then climbed on to it and addressed the audience with expansive gestures, the verdict would be “He’s drunk”. Not, however, if the audience consisted of Toastmasters. We would not have found it somewhat odd and the man would have received a rousing applause. How do we change this tradition? I feel that judging criteria at every contest should include “Did the speech seem Natural and Not contrived/Artificial (25 points)”. This one change in the judging ballot would ensure that contestants don’t perform absurd antics, and if they do, that they don’t win. That should have a trickle-down effect right to the club level. Members would then not try to emulate “World Champions” who exhibit unrealistic, non-real world behaviours on stage. Finally, I think we should be acutely aware that we are just one organization – that there is a whole world outside. When we win contests, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we are at the top of our game. The real world begins where ours ends. Let us then prepare, not merely for the Toastmasters stage, but for the real world. Edited and compiled by Karan Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
NEW CLUB EXPERIENCE
A NEW JOURNEY IN THE MAKING them know how they can organize events, be on time, and also improve their listening and writing skills. TM RENITA D'SOUZA MASTEK TOASTMASTERS, MUMBAI
"The art of communication is the language of leadership"James Humes Inspired by this, the Mastek Learning & Development Cell took an initiative to help employees to find their communication and leadership skills through the platform of Toastmasters. Our team attended a Toastmasters meeting to understand the process. A demo meeting was organized on the 7th July 2017 for Mastek employees. This was conducted with the help of various Toastmasters clubs in and around Mumbai. This helped us understand how Toastmasters can transform our lives in terms of making us good communicators as well as excellent leaders. The Toastmasters who helped conduct this demo meeting were Ravi Sharma, Gaurav Vasani, Hardik Shah, Shijin Sreeraman, Sangita Mishra, Ambuj Tripathi, Praveen Wadalkar and Richard Francis. They addressed the employees about the structure and value of Toastmasters meetings: 1. Prepared speeches from P1 to P10 can help overcome stage fright, nervousness to speak in front of an audience, and also improve writing and storytelling skills. 2. Table topics can help speak impromptu. With any random topic given, it helps people to be on their toes and speak up. 3. Evaluation sessions can help enhance listening skills and provide speakers with appropriate feedback, thus not only appreciating them for stepping up to give such wonderful speeches but also motivating them to improve their weak points. 4. How they could attain leadership skills by taking up various roles during the meetings. These roles will help
Everyone was truly inspired. The meeting theme was "My First Day" and all the prepared speeches and myriad table topics helped people reminisce their own memories of their very first experiences - their first day of school, first day with their team, or the first day after marriage. This laid the foundation for forming Mastek Toastmasters Club. Mastek employees were eagerly registering themselves to take advantage of this opportunity. With the club formation, came the first Executive Committee (ExComm). To get more details about the various roles and responsibilities, the ExComm attended the Club Officers Training Program on 16th July 2017 at Capgemini, Vikhroli. It was a very informative session and left everyone wanting to work with full enthusiasm. Now, with efforts of the ExComm team, the club has been officially chartered. This process involved various activities like filling out membership forms, obtaining approvals from various Area and Division directors, collecting membership fees and sending the fees to Toastmasters International. The club has conducted five meetings till date with each member eagerly waiting for upcoming meetings. Today, we have 31 members and we are motivating others to join as well. The success factors of the club are: 1. Good response from the members 2. New members joining 3, Support from senior leaders of the organization Mastek Toastmasters Club aims to achieve at least Distinguished status by June 2018. So yes, we have taken off well. Hopefully, we will continue soaring high up in the sky.
Edited and compiled by Karan Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
MASTERPLAN TM GAYATRI SHENDURKAR SBM NMIMS TOASTMASTERS , MUMBAI
“I am tired of worrying about life. I am tired of thinking about life. I am tired of dealing with all this mess in my life. For once, I just want to live like an 18-year-old. Is this too much to ask? An unemployed, drunkard father, a mother who runs to God every other second, and no friends; Life can't get any worse than this. Look here, don't get me wrong. I am not ungrateful. I am healthy. I have two fully functioning legs and hands, and ears and eyes, and all that stuff. I get to eat once a day, sometimes even twice! So like I said, I know there are people worse off than me. But still, my pile of mess is exhausting! You've got to understand. I get up every day. Check whether that worthless piece of c**p dad is still breathing. Clean the house. Drop my mom to whichever church catches her fancy. Then roam all around the city in search of some work so that we won't have to sleep on empty stomachs. And guess who makes dinner? Yeah, yours truly. God! It is tiring! Do you get it now? Is it so unthinkable that I would wish for someone to take care of me? That once in my life I won't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from? To get up and have someone serve me breakfast? Is it so goddamn weird?” “Oh! So let me get this straight. You killed an innocent girl just because you wanted someone to serve you breakfast. And you thought jail is the best place where your next meal is guaranteed. Was that your motive?” "Yeah, your honor." The pin drop silence in the court was interrupted only by the rumbling of my empty stomach. I smiled wryly.
Marks with stories, that is what they are;
SCARS AND WRINKLES
Of the battles faced; the roads travelled so far. They make you distinct; make you, you Distinguished and honoured like a very few. Badges of trials and medals of strength Patience and perseverance practiced at length. Written off as hideous and ugly at times
TM PRIYASHA CHAKBARTTY HYDERABAD TOASTMASTERS
Under the ignorance and imprudence paradigms. But the wise see them in a different light. As a memento, as a relic from a glorious fight So next time you see a scar or a wrinkle
Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!
Think of the stars and how they twinkle!
8 1. DISTRICT 98 CONDUCTS ITS FIRST PR EVENT IN AURANGABAD OCTOBER 29TH 2. AMDAVAD TOASTMASTERS PR CAMPAIGN 31ST OCTOBER 3. FUN AND FURORE, JOINT CONFERENCE OF DIVISIONS E,F, AND H OCTOBER 28TH AND 29TH 4. EXPRESSIONS, JOINT CONFERENCE OF DIVISIONS C, D, AND P NOVEMBER 4TH 5. KALEIDOSCOPE, JOINT CONFERENCE OF DIVISIONS A, B, AND M NOVEMBER 5TH 6. QUAD MEET, KJ SIMSR TOASTMASTERS CLUB, ACCENTURE TOASTMASTERS CLUB, TCS MAITREE TOASTMASTERS CLUB, CAPGEMINI MUMBAI TOASTMASTERS CLUB 11TH NOVEMBER 7. DIVISIONS EFH ORGANIZED A CC WORKSHOP LED BY TMS SUBRAMANYAM KV AND PHANI BHAGAWAN 12TH NOVEMBER 8. DISTRICT 98 CELEBRATED ITS THIRD SEMI-ANNUAL CONFERENCE, CONFLUENCE, AT INDORE 24TH-26TH NOVEMBER
SPOKEN WORD POETRY CONTEST WINNERS Please click the images to view the videos!
First Place Ann de Souza, Toastmasters International Margao Theme: Words (English)
Second Place Vranda Rathi, Amdavad Toastmasters Theme: Time (Hindi)
Third Place Supriya, Vision Toastmasters Theme: Words (Telugu)
Special Mention Utkarsh Jumle, Thane Toastmasters Theme: Happiness (Marathi)
Communicate 98 November issue designed by Ruchika, Karan, and Fatima
"DEEP INTO THE OCEAN"
TM SAUMYA SINGH TOASTMASTERS CLUB OF PUNE SOUTH EAST